Nery Suyapa Osorio has provided her expertise in human rights and criminal investigations as a consultant to PHR’s International Forensic Program since 1996, and has participated in several investigations of murder, summary executions, and torture. She currently has a teaching position at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, Ponce Campus, teaching at the Criminal Justice Program, where she teaches criminal investigation, forensic investigation, and forensic science, as well as law.
Ms. Osorio began her professional career in 1994 as a criminal investigator at the Honduran General Attorney’s office. She received her law degree from the Law School at the Autonomous National University of Honduras in 2001 and her Master’s degree in International Criminal Law at the University of Granada, Spain.
“At 14 years old I felt within me the desire to fight for the rights of all Hondurans, the rights established in the Honduran constitution, such as the right to life, the right to dignity, free expression, education, decent housing, among others. These are rights that were, and are still, regularly violated by the Honduran authorities,” Osorio explains.
“I was inspired at a time when the majority of Hondurans were living under oppression and misery and a group of people decided to rise up and fight for better living conditions for Hondurans. Most of those people were disappeared and murdered by the national security policy during the 1980s. At the time I was too young to do anything, but ten years later, I took the opportunity to work for the Public Prosecutor in the office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights. This job absorbed all my time as I was the only criminal investigator for the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights in the country from 1994 to 1996. This work delayed my law studies, but I didn’t mind because one of the most important tasks at that time was the investigation of forced disappearances and summary executions that had happened in the 1980s. I worked for the victims: men and women who survived and bear the pain of knowing their loved ones have disappeared; mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of those who were executed; and those who wanted to know what had happened and were in search of the truth.
“While I was working these cases, in 1994, I met Dr. Bill Haglund and Stefan Schmitt from Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). They came to Honduras to conduct exhumations and analysis of skeletal remains for identification in several cases of disappearances from the 1980s. They decided to give me training in forensic anthropology to continue this work,” Osorio adds.
“I have a background of galvanizing people around important causes. When I was 16 years old, I organized a youth group to help street children. Our first objective was that children in Honduras could experience another side of life, receiving attention and affection. We used the little money that our parents gave us during the week and we bought books and pencils and taught them to read and write. We worked on Sundays, fanning out across the streets, wherever we were needed.
“By 2003, because of various acts of discrimination against the LGBT community, and knowing that no human rights organizations were paying attention to this problem in Honduras, my friend and I decided to create Catrachas, a group whose purpose is to make publicly known, through the media, acts of discrimination and hate crimes against this community. Today this group continues to carry out this important work,” she adds.